Team B: Sheena McCall, Idalia Gill, Neil Gabe, Billie Adams, and Dannielle Rea
October 31, 2011
Austin Dunham Weidner
In a United States courtroom, there are many participants who contribute to the goal of justice for all. The judge, prosecutor, defense attorney, defendant, victims, witnesses, jurors, bailiff, and court reporter are each participants in the courtroom workgroup. Although every participant plays a different role in the process, they each contribute to the courts general objective of ensuring that the legal system remains fair, efficient, and effective to those individuals accused of committing a crime.
A judge’s ...view middle of the document...
The last responsibility of the judge before the trial is to oversee the jury selection.
Once the criminal or civil trial has begun, the judge presides over the courtroom (Meyer & Grant, 2003). When the jury reaches a verdict of guilty, the judge is responsible for following established legal guidelines during sentencing. [In bench trials, the judge serves as judge and jury.] If a guilty verdict is appealed, appellate judges are responsible for reviewing the case and determining whether there was any legal misconduct in the case proceedings.
Federal appellate judges (judges who review federal appeals) are nominated and appointed by the President of the United States, confirmed by the Senate, and hold their positions for life. All other judges are chosen through the merit system, appointment, partisan election, or nonpartisan election (Meyer & Grant, 2003).
“The victim’s role is to personalize the otherwise bureaucratized formal nature of the legal proceedings, serving as a reminder to all participants of the reasons why they are gathered in court” (Meyer & Grant, 2003, p. 222). Victims are essential to courtroom proceedings: without a victim, there would be no case. Individual victims are allowed to be present during each phase of the criminal proceeding, and are sometimes called upon to testify against the defendant. They may give a reenactment of the events that took place surrounding the crime and/or identify the defendant as the perpetrator. During the sentencing phase of capital punishment proceedings, victims and their family members are allowed to submit victim impact statements, testifying of how the crime has impacted their lives (Meyer & Grant, 2003).
These testimonies, which are often times emotionally driven, and can have a direct effect on the outcome of a case for the defendant. Jurors who find sympathy for the victim may issue a guilty verdict, even if there is doubt about whether the defendant committed the crime. Likewise, a judge may decide to issue the death penalty to a defendant based on the testimony given during the sentencing phase. The victim is of noted importance because of the impact he or she may have on the outcome of a trial.
Witnesses provide the basis for the prosecution and defense arguments presented in court. Their testimony, given under oath, provides facts that the jury takes into consideration when determining the defendant’s guilt or innocence. Some witnesses are subpoenaed by the courts to testify, whereas others testify voluntarily (Meyer & Grant, 2003). Witnesses play a key part in the courtroom because of their knowledge of the crime that took place, or of the person[s] involved.
Eyewitnesses are those persons who saw the crime happening and testify in court about what they saw. Expert witnesses have special knowledge of the issues surrounding the case and provide testimony regarding their field of knowledge. Character witnesses are persons who know the defendant or victim...